In 2019, more than 11,000 young people from across the Commonwealth entered The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition - congratulations to all!
This year’s competition, on the theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ asked entrants to consider how they can work to use cultural, technological and environmental connections for positive change across the Commonwealth. Topics invited young people to consider the potential of the Commonwealth in strengthening the vast and varied links between citizens.
To celebrate the efforts of all participants, every single entry and each participating school receive a certificate. Certificates can be downloaded as a PDF file from the online platform. Simply log in to your account and download the certificate from your dashboard.
Catherine Wang, Nnemdi Ozoemena, Veronica Shen and Elise Jensen – Winners and Runners-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019.
A pan-Commonwealth body of more than 100 volunteer judges, drawn from 40 different countries, assessed entries across every region of the Commonwealth and approximately one third of entrants received Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. Approximately 140 aspiring young writers received Gold Finalist Awards and were among those selected for consideration by the Final Panel. Judges commented on the skill and talent shown by many of the young writers, with entries described as ‘massively memorable’ and ‘very powerful’.
We're delighted to share the great achievements of this year's entrants, in recognition of their hard work and talent.
In recognition of their outstanding achievement, the winners will all visited London and took part in a week of educational and cultural events, including an Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.
Senior Winner: Catherine Wang, Canada
Catherine’s poem ‘Beached’ follows the heart-breaking experience of three passers-by as they find a whale washed up on a beach. Through vivid, lyrical descriptions, she highlights the importance of working together to resolve the problems of environmental damage. She is a student of the University Transition Program at the University of British Colombia. On being told that she had been selected as Senior Winner, she said, “It was an emotional rollercoaster, with the cart slowly climbing in disbelief, only to suddenly become pure excitement upon the descent’’. Read Catherine's entry.
Senior Runner-up: Nnemdi Ozoemena, Nigeria
Ozoemena’s story ‘Hello’ is the tale of two young people struggling with issues in their society who do not feel truly appreciated for whom they are but who find common ground and become friends, told through direct messages on Twitter. A Final Panel Judge described the piece as ‘a shop window of how youth are speaking to each other today’. On being named Senior Runner-up, she said ‘‘It feels really good to know that my portrayal of issues that I view as important was able to come through to people and hopefully make them feel something.’’ Read Nnemdi's entry.
Junior Winner: Veronica Shen, Singapore
Veronica’s poem ‘Lost’ follows the story of a girl growing up in China as it explores a complicated relationship with the country’s past. She entered the competition as a student of Raffles Girls' School (Secondary). Veronica chose to write on the topic ‘My Cultural Connections’ because she "wished to express my own feelings…and present an issue while developing the art of writing.’’ When informed of her success in the competition, Veronica felt ‘Surprise, elation’. Read Veronica's entry.
Junior Runner-up: Elise Jensen, Ghana
Elise’s poem ‘A place you feel connected to’ is a vibrant, vivid celebration of her favourite elements of Ghanaian culture; a welcoming tale of food, dancing, clothing and the ties she feels to the country. Dr Diana Owen OBE, Director General of the Royal Over-Seas League and Chair of the Junior Final Panel, said of Elise’s poem, ‘A heartfelt hymn to Ghana, lively, bright, optimistic, playful and confident.’ Upon learning she was Junior Runner-up, Elise felt ‘very excited, surprised and very happy!’ Read Elise's entry.
Junior Runner-up: Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa
An additional runner-up in the Junior Category was also named in 2019, Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa. Kieran, 11, was tragically killed in a terrorist attack at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. His essay was entered posthumously by his mother, Dhulsini. Kieran's piece titled 'My Cultural Connections' brings to life the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka and details his personal cultural journey and move to the country. Read Kieran's entry.
History of the Essay Competition
The RCS has a rich history of nurturing the creative talents of young people around the Commonwealth. We endeavour to promote literacy, expression and creativity by celebrating excellence and imagination. Run by the RCS since 1883, this international schools’ writing contest is a highly regarded and popular international education project.
In 2015, the contest was renamed ‘The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition’, in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the essays are not necessarily shared or endorsed by The Royal Commonwealth Society